Origins News Feature 800X524

Exploring our Origins

The quest to understand our beginnings — of our universe, of life on Earth, of our species — inspires people all over the world. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers have forged partnerships with colleagues in South Africa and are uncovering answers and opening new scientific frontiers.

The stories of their work are presented in "Origins," a three-part multimedia narrative exploring the beginnings of the universe, life on earth and humankind.

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Jessica Weeks

Jessica Weeks is fascinated by the “dark side” of international relations: dictatorships. But her award-winning research combats the black-and-white view of authoritarian regimes and democracies. Dictators at War and Peace, published in 2014, classifies regimes to better understand them: bosses/strongmen, with an unchecked personalist leader; juntas, with influential military elites; and machines, with influential political elites. Weeks, a UW associate professor of political science, spoke to members of the U.S. intelligence community in Washington, DC, last year as they grappled with how to contain North Korea.

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Beauty Vanishes

During more than four decades as a photographer, Michael Kienitz ’74 has worked in some of the most beautiful spots in the world — from Peru to the Hindu Kush mountain range near the Afghanistan–Pakistan border. But his camera was always focused on people at the center of armed conflicts, not their environments. The scenery was merely background.

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Washburn Observatory

Washburn overlooks Lake Mendota and sits atop Observatory Hill, where students like to sled on campus dining hall trays.

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New Faculty Focus: Carolyn McAndrews

She brings a focus on transportation planning, policy and design to the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture. 

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Next generation Large Hadron Collider relies on UW–Madison computing

In July 2012, scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, announced the discovery of a fundamental particle critical to our understanding of the universe: the Higgs boson.

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Amazing summer internships: 7 students tell what they did, what they learned, and what they’ll never forget

Each summer, hundreds of UW–Madison students spread out across the globe for internships. They gain vital job skills — that’s a given. They also explore new cities, discover foreign cultures, and have a lot of fun. We caught up with seven students to learn a little more about their experiences.

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Construction begins on $133 million revamp of Chemistry Building

By the time they graduate, more than half of the students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison will have taken a chemistry course, a demonstration of the central role chemistry plays in preparing students for their career. Now, with the start of construction on a $133 million tower and other renovations, those students — as well as faculty and other researchers — will gain access to updated teaching and laboratory spaces to accommodate the next generation of chemical education and research.

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A peek at the new Hamel Music Center

Construction began in February 2017 and is scheduled for completion in 2019. Located at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue, the building is named in honor of Pamela and UW–Madison alumnus George Hamel. The Hamel family, which includes three generations of UW–Madison alumni, contributed $15 million to the project and has supported the university through gifts to athletics, scholarships, facilities and faculty support.

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New Faculty Focus: Justin Hsu

He brings to the Department of Computer Sciences an interest in differential privacy. 

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